Sunday, 27 May 2012

Christ in you ...

Paul tells us "... Christ is in you, the hope of glory" but what did he mean and what is the result of this?

Many churches will have celebrated Pentecost this weekend - the London Pentecost Festival is one such, a bible college friend recently asked - do we need another Pentecost as the hymn (O God of burning cleansing flame) says, or do we need to take the first one seriously. Having reflected a little on this today, I found I was struck with this thought, do we too often look to special occasions to give us that lift - the big Christian celebrations, the big gatherings, the celebration of events like Pentecost? Trying to recreate them in our churches and setting up tensions that should not be there?

Every Christian has the Holy Spirit given to them from the moment that we believed in Christ, scripture tells us this over and over. The gift is already given and while there are times when God pours out more (and I suspect that is what Booth was referring to), I don't think we have even begun to understand the gift that he has already given. Maybe we don't need repeated Pentecosts what we need to is to live in the light of what God has already given us, his Holy Spirit.

How often are we fearful of sharing our testimony - the things God is doing with us, among Christians, let alone among those outside of the Church? How often do we consider that it is someone else's calling to be the evangelist or missionary? Too often I suspect.

The passage that we looked at today was Ephesians 3:1-13, Paul, the writer, gives us no option, the church has a mission - to proclaim the mystery of Christ, revealed to the Church that the Church, that is each of us, might be witnesses to those who don't know. There is no wriggle room here, Paul has a commission from God, he is empowered by the Holy Spirit because of God's grace and that same grace empowers the Church. Try putting your testimony down on paper - this site gives a few hints.

So rather than looking for more Pentecosts perhaps we need to need to take on board what we have - Christ in us - the hope of glory, the Holy Spirit.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Overcoming Mountains

Have you tried walking up a mountain, well OK so mountains in the UK are not so big, but its all a matter of perspective isn't it? In April I managed Sca Fell Pike and Snowdon, neither was easy but there is a joy in overcoming such mountains.

Walking up a mountain for sensible people takes preparation, planning and above all determination. A mountain guide I recently went up Sca Fell Pike with told me that climbing mountains is mostly about mental strength, when your body is telling you its tired and had enough, thats when your mental strength is needed to carry you on.

I think Paul in his various attempts to describe the Christian life has similar thinking. He talks of life in Christ as a race - a race which he wants to finish well, doing what God has called him to do, spreading the gospel message. Its a favourite theme of his and one he calls us to take seriously - throwing off all that hinders or is likely to stop us reaching the goal. Preparing for (our bible reading and study), planning (prayer) and doing all that God calls us to do.

God also does not ask us to go it alone, just like the friends I walked up the mountains with, God calls us to life in his church so that we may strengthen, help and encourage each other on the journey.

Sometimes the issues before us can seem so large that we might want to turn aside from the race that Paul talks of, sometimes the hill before us seems too high or rocky to climb. The measure of our faith is the strength we gain from relying on Christ in such situations, allowing him to be our strength means we can dig in to that faith reserve and overcome the mountain.